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Book TV After Words

Anton Treuer Education. (2012) 'Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians but Were Afraid to Ask.' New.

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Columbus 13, Us 12, U.s. 6, America 6, Christopher 5, Minnesota 4, Indians 4, Arizona 3, Minneapolis 3, Canada 3, Germany 2, China 2, Wisconsin 2, Florida 2, Daniel 1, Tama 1, Dad 1, Bartolomeo 1, Jackson 1, United Native 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV After Words    Anton Treuer  Education.  (2012) 'Everything You  
   Wanted to Know About Indians but Were Afraid to Ask.' New.  

    September 15, 2012
    10:00 - 11:00pm EDT  

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dictator. it's possible to change the country. this is irreversible. that cannot be changed. this is something which is a legacy as a shift which is very promising for now and the future. >> oxford university islamic professor talks about the causes behind the arab spring and the role he thinks islam will play in the future of the countries involved. this sunday at 3 p.m. eastern at c-span2 booktv. ..
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i thoroughly enjoyed reading it and i was so glad to see the questions that you entered in there. because in the beginning of my career when i started doing more things you know outside of indian country, i at least try to create a space for people-to-people to ask any question they wanted to ask that makes them feel comfortable and you would get all sorts of questions. you know they have been dying to ask us questions and so in your book, you cover a lot of those questions and i was glad to see that. in the beginning in the introduction you actually called yourself an ambassador and i thought maybe you could share with us a little bit about why an ambassador and what you see your role in that role, what prompted you to want to write this book? >> guest: yeah, great question. i guess first of all it's
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horribly unfair that anyone should ever be an ambassador for their people and one of the issues that comes up especially with native american history and culture is that there is no such thing as the native view so it's a loaded question to save what do india and think about mascots, per capita payments or whatever. it's like saying what do people think about abortion good or bad? and of course it's not that simple. there's a diversity of opinion and sometimes emotionally charged opinion around every issue you can imagine so on the one hand, no one represents the entire native view and one of the most important disclaimers that i put in there as well, but at the same time you know i guess growing up in northern minnesota on the leech lake reservation in nearby going to school nearby in a town called bemidji where 30% of the population is native than half
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of the population is native. there were so many mean-spirited comments and misunderstandings from peers and it seemed like the two worlds, the native world and the non-native world rarely interacted. they would send kids from school until trips in 225 miles away to minneapolis driving around the reservation to get there. and so i guess like many kids growing up somewhere with where the population density somewhere than -- bigger than i came from and of course when i went to college and the first question i went to princeton university i thought these guys are going to be well-educated and know something and the first question was where should tomahawk? oh wow the borderland follows me everywhere and there was no way to escape it that only a way through it so i realized there are not -- i would be the
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barometer by which a lot of people would you know understand or judge native people and so i realize the importance of my own work in that representation. >> host: grades. one of the things i really liked about your book also was balance and for me that is really important. i think our tribal communities are based on balance but in the book you have a lot of talents. you balance the topics at dealing with sensitive issues that may be sensitive to a non-native person like -- my grandmother was a cherokee princes versus for tribal community the issues around tribal membership and enrollment and then you also dealt with the tough issues like the history of christopher columbus and you lightened it with canned white men dance a powwow so there is a history lesson and then the lighter enjoyment of reading the book. it must have been awfully tough. how did you decide what to include and what not to include
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in this book? bea, for me actually writing the book happened a little faster than some of my research projects but in the building up all of the questions has happened throughout you know my career i guess and so many questions and i have just kind of thing keeping them in a shoebox and then sorted them out into categories and tried to figure out what would be the most important. i think really one of the fun things about this book, cutest can set it next to the toilet and have moving experiences so it's easily accessible and approachable kind of reading but real answers to i think doing some bridge building is really critical work and a lot of non-native people got their sugarcoated version of christopher columbus and the first thanksgiving and very little else to feel like they even know enough to know how to ask a question. they have lots of guilt and when the issues are raised that
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inhibits a deeper conversation. for a lot of native people, you know a serious look at our history leaves a lot of people really understandably angry. so between a guilty person in an angry person do have a meaningful conversation is hard and i think it's critical work for everyone in this country. going to school and not getting answers and the teachers who got their sugarcoated version of christopher columbus in the first thanksgiving feel so ill equipped to address the subject that it's safer not to teach about indians. if you open your mouth you are going to offend somebody and all you need is one angry native parents breathing fire at you or your administrator and people retreat into their shells. as a result many people never get a chance to learn about themselves and their school setting and it's very rare even in tribal schools which answer to curriculum standards and funding models that are really
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not that different from everyone else. even the pie schools have to do this so you know to really create meaningful learning opportunities for native people and for non-native people, critical stuff and i think there is a lot that people cannot understand indians but the ability and longevity of our government. these are troubling times that we live in and you can look across the world, the 77 kids who are killed in norway who were all children of political party members who favored open immigration or france, another long-established democracies that is now outlining the wearing of traditional muslim attire in the streets or here in the united states where in arizona got only laws passed to say racial profiling is okay but laws that say we are going to dismantle ethnic studies
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across-the-board in the state of arizona. and of all the horrible the services, it's not just to the hispanic studies program in tucson which was successfully dismantle but it's also you know, for everybody. imagine the children in arizona who are now being prepared in a fantasy land that will never exist instead of the world in which their children will actually live and operate. and so to me, you know the sustainability of democracy, a new old forum in the history of the world depends not upon our ability to assimilate all of our citizens but our ability to support and enable things like cultural and linguistic diversity. >> host: it's good that you actually said that this would be like a bathroom book. i recognized right away this was a book he could pick up many times, just grab a section and read it and put it down and grab another section and you don't have to read all the way
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through. i thought that was the beauty of the book to back. one of the topics to address an impact one of the first topics you dress in their something that is the number one question i get from both people are politically sensitive and racially sensitive and they want to be doing the right thing. they just don't know how to call less american indians, alaska natives or the aia and. so what is the right term? native american, first american, indigenous people? how did you answer that? >> guest: yeah this is one of the subjects and this comes up in a lot of themes in the book where there might be a diversity of opinion even with an indian country. you will find some people who will say columbus had it all wrong. i'm not an indian. don't call me that. imation ave or whatever and so i think it's important to be aware that there is diversity of opinion out there. for myself, i think it's far more important that we don't
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make everyone walk around on eggshells because having an angry disposition over something as simple as labels is a killer to deeper understanding and it makes people shut down and not want to ask questions and not understand deeper and they retreat from the subject matter. we need people to embrace deeper understandings and feel that it's safe to do that and okay to do that. so i kind of lay out the prevailing terminology and just about all of them have some level of issue or problem. the term indian was christopher columbus thinking he was in china, japan and that made its transfer into european language and it stuck. i guess on the one hand we can come up with -- he didn't show up and say there are humans here, right? it had to be someone other and
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this empowers the whole colonial mentality where is problematic but terms can be pretty ambiguous or confusing. whether it's native, from minneapolis or minneapolis native does that mean and native american from there or just someone who has lived there their entire life? so their there are ambiguities and their indigenous people in most parts of the world and so there is some ambiguities but there is an effort to find respectful ways to talk about things. and canada candidate they have change the terminology from reserves to first nation and i think there is an effort to find emphasis in the united states on the nationhood of travel governments rather than on you know thinking of them just as cultural enclaves so there has been an effort with that. certainly the tribal terms self reference, you can always call
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dakota people to code and you can always called ojibwe people at jeb way but at the same time it sounds a little ojibwe centric to use the word of ojibwe should not pay for all 500 native nations so in the long run you have to find some overarching term. i use them all fairly interchangeably aware of their shortcomings but the emphasis should be on having respect and an open mind and as long as we do that that will keep the conversation going. >> host: i totally agree with you about respect. we have conducted many polls on the attitudes and the knowledge of the american public and what they think about american indian people in about our tribal government and it's interesting that most of the american public knowledge around indian country kind of ended with their public education experience so they know about christopher columbus and they know about pocahontas
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and they know about thanksgiving but they don't really know what is happening with tribes today and the more contemporary information. you mention columbus a couple of times here. let's just deal with that, the issues around christopher columbus. every columbus day i get a call from a number of media people sing what are you guys doing today in what you think about columbus day? the fact of the matter is most people in indian country don't think of christopher columbus is a hero. can you share a little bit about that? >> there is so much to talk about and i could have an entire conversation on any one of the questions in here but i think it's really critical to look at this history and i have been astounded that for a piece of history we know so much about, columbus kept numerous journals and lots of letters and took more trips to the americas and then starting with the second trip there were lots of officials gripes and army officials in all kinds people doing lots of writing and
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missionaries. we know what happened. what it sounds like to me is not just what happened but 500 years after we are still not really talking about what happened. the story is still so often sugarcoated and i think for example we know that there was a genocide on columbus his second 's second voyage in the spanish government instituted a gold dust -- all native people in the dominican republic had to bring us a certain amount of gold four times a year. what the spanish didn't recognize was that mostly the gold they had seen their cayman from trains from mainland mexico and what the gold was at espanola was way under the ground and not readily accessible. 30,000 people had their hands chopped off and within 30 years
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2 million inhabitants of as daniel had been killed or died and so it was the beginning of the genocidal policy. we know this but for some reason we are still teaching 1492 christopher columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered a new world and discovered a place densely inhabited by other human beings and opened the door to this new world and set an example for us all and even george bush the elder statement on the 500th anniversary of columbus used exactly those words, monumental perseverance, faith establish the jubilee commission celebrate the accomplishments of this great navigator and leader and the native people even the ones who don't know the entire story of columbus know there is something wrong with that perspective. and this is a part of human nature, no human wants to be
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judged by their darkest day. no nation wants to be judged by their darkest day but when nations have dark days we have to acknowledge that. truth and reconciliation start to trigger and germany have to do a lot of work around the nazi holocaust. formal apologies, reparations, mandated instruction in the schools and it helped mitigate the chances of something like that happening again. here in the u.s. we have yet to get to -- we are seeing this first emergent effort at some kind of policy that we have yet to really get to widespread formal apologies, reparations mandated instruction. there are little bits and pieces. in a wisconsin actually requires k-12 educators to take a class on native history. minnesota is trying to weave something into the curriculum, strands and beginnings of things but it's not nearly enough and
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as a result the misunderstandings abound of people thinking these are all casinos and some people think indians are living in squalor on reservations. it's complicated and with the columbus narrative that is exactly the case, that there are so much that story and so much to what we teach about again with any subjects. i remember one time asking a teacher, what about the indians and the teacher said that his who was here before and just kept right on teaching. and i remember thinking, but i'm here now and in spite of it all, a lot of people have that against native people in the past 500 years. the last of the fill in the blank with whatever tripe you want to talk about. in spite of it all we are still here. we still have sovereign governance. we still have living languages. we still have fiber and cultural
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traditions and to me those are especially important things so looking at the history, all the misunderstandings is just one of the entry points and there's some really great material out there. i think this contributes a lot to help setting the record straight. there's material in the rethinking columbus book published by rethinking schools which is a creek on packets or you are you don't have to take kindergartners and the lithographs from bartolomeo with a hand chopping and say color in the blood or something. you can start by talking about the colombian exchange and how native ideas and tools around agriculture, medicine, knowledge of trepidation surgery introduced by native people to the rest of the world, tools and ideas. those are good entry points for how native people have shaped the world and then that is a good way to start and then when you get to the high-schoolers,
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then you can lay it all out there and let them form their own opinions. there is lots and lots to discuss. >> host: thanks. another topic you dealt with in the book particularly for us in indian country was that about setting the foundation for a tribal government today. you discuss sovereignty and you talked about treaties and you talked about reservations. and those are really important messages for us today as they were then. can you tell us why that was so important for you to include those and what were the lessons you wanted to teach the american public? >> guest: misunderstandings abound so much. i think most americans are aware that the world is a diverse place but to look at indian country as you know a cultural enclave, a cultural enclave or sometimes a little bit more sophisticated understanding might be that there are few different cultural enclaves. without understanding the whole
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political dimension to what it means to be a tribal nation and there are a lot of things polluted league, legally, culturally that make being made of very different from being amish or something like that for you to have a cultural enclave and sometimes even languages from immigrant groups that have been maintained over time, and the importance of maintaining that tribal sovereignty i think is something that should he important to everyone. of course it's important to native people for maintaining our own government and it's an important attribute of identity and really the most reliable source of understanding help for native people. incredibly we had a 15% sustained unemployment rate is 15% in the united states and they called it the great depression. we got social security.
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we got the civilian conservation corps, medicare and medicaid, this huge mass of public intervention that still here today. well, before casinos, the unemployment rate in indian country was an average of 50%, 5-0 and after casino rising tides didn't lift all boats. it drop to around 20 plus percent on average. so there was an impact but the native people that the great depression started in the 1800's never ended. we are still waiting for our intervention and the only organizations trying to really alleviate the poverty, build jobs programs, schools, hospitals, entities, native programs run by native nations and they have experimented with literally terminating tribal nationhood for tribes like the
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menominee with devastating consequences. then there's a section on the menominee as well but they actually play near sustainable forestry for the world and had actually built an endowment of $10 million at a time when many tribal people were living in abject poverty, had a great program and the u.s. government came in and said you guys are pretty civilized. we are limiting your tribal government and the consequences consequences -- consequences were devastating for the sustainable harvesting program, for the well then benefit of the native people. menominee county became a county in the state of wisconsin and cost the government more in welfare payments than subsidizing a tribal government. it was horrible and a lot of times that it's been a problem outsiders trying to figure out how to do something about the indian problems. they don't know what's best and
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tribal governments do know a little bit better. that doesn't mean there aren't issues of contention around that as well but i think native nationhood should the scene as an viewed as important for everybody. when america came into existence, it was through contact, revolution against the british crown and america's sovereignty was not certain so they saw that native allies and you might recall the oneida coming to valley forge and bringing food supplies and reinforcements to the colonial army at a critical juncture in the revolutionary war and at many other stages we could've had a completely different outcome. and the same with the war of 1812 were american sovereignty was being challenged again by the british crown, again the important alliances with native people made a big difference. as a result, those early
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documents including the u.s. constitution have specific mention of native people and they include things like the trade clause where it says only congress show regulate trade and manage affairs with the several states in the various indian tribes and what that means is he now, state laws and state governments don't have authority over those native nations. they have a direct relationship with the u.s. federal government so if the state has a law that says gaming and gambling is illegal except for -- those laws don't apply to indian country. but, the other part of the constitution that i mentioned was the treaty clause where it says treaties are the supreme law of the land and as partial payment for the land that everyone can america's living on and enjoying, building this nation native sovereignty has been affirmed so there is no way
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to get no to something to tribal sovereignty without doing something to the constitution and all those treaties and honestly i think if the united states want to revisit all those treaties i think tribes would be pretty happy to do it because they have got lawyers now. >> host: right and in fact we see in the smithsonian the united native -- for 400 plus treaties that america is made and how many they have broken. and i think it really does create the environment that we are actually working in our government today, that we still have continuing challenges and continue to go to the congress board for policies around indian health care provisions. our education programs and other bases for that so governments are a little bit different and we recognize that because we have treaties and we have got reservations but we are people. we are also a little bit
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different too and that is because i think we are so tight toward cultural customs, our traditions and our language that are clearly based upon who we are as people. you call yourself a language warrior and in the book you spend a whole chapter on language which we know how important is this but why today is a modern day indian do we care about language? >> guest: great question. you know to me, and of course this is one of my primary passions but to me language and culture is one of the most important areas for us to focus on as native people. it's a big part of what binds us and of course a lot of native people did not grow up speaking their tribal languages through no fault of their own. you know there has been a long nasty history with residential boarding schools and various other assimilation policies and
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so i don't think native people should be kilted about what they didn't get to learn growing up. those who didn't grow up with tribal languages, a whole lot of people did as well but it raises some fundamental questions about you now identity and cultural change. for example, in minnesota where i come from, a third of the state's population are people german heritage and they have actually been living there for five generations now so they never lived in germany and don't speak german but do have pride in their german heritage. if they went to germany, they might have a nice vacation but would feel most comfortable coming home to minnesota. so there is a difference between having german heritage and being a deutsche. there's a difference between having native heritage and being what our ancestors were. so it raises fundamental
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questions about how much can people change and still be the same people? still be recognizable to their ancestors. so to me, the preservation and revitalization of tribal languages and cultural customs is really critical work and if you look at some of the tribes that have been really successful financially, you know, that dakota seminole for example, really successful financially and like for example i was talking to some seminole folks is that alright you have actually done what everyone else in indian country is trying to do. you have eliminated poverty or you are enrolled citizens and to the point where they actually had a budget shortfall in the state state of florida in and the tribal chairman said -- donated to help alleviate the budget shortfall for the state
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of florida and you know political power and they have accomplished a lot but if you ask them okay then, what keeps you up at night? almost everyone i've talked to says language and culture. this is my greatest concern for tribal leadership today and i see them working so hard and with so much great integrity and they are climbing this mountain. at the amount of economic prosperity and it's good to have our eye on that exist poverty is a real issue in indian country. they are climbing this mountain of economic prosperity, political empowerment because that is the vehicle by which they can do bigger and broader things in my fears that they are going to get to the top of that mountain, look around and say oh, god reaches climbed the wrong mountain. we should've been focusing on language and culture.
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and it does define us in so many ways. i can see more about the ojibwe because that is what i know but for example as a matter of perspective our word for altering the ojibwe language is literally means great being. our word for an elderly woman means, literally means one who holds us together describing the role of the family matriarch and in english you have old woman and aged woman an elderly woman and no wonder everybody wants to get a facelift and a low toxin injection and dye their hair and won't admit how old they really are. you know, but you don't actually have to say respect your elders because you are saying it in ojibwe. it's built right in with every word possibly use. and in many other ways too i think everybody who is involved in education, native or non-native, is concerned about what they often call the achievement gap, but to me the achievement gap is really a
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misnomer. it's an opportunity gap and just as we were talking about christopher columbus, you can look at just about every major entry point in the social studies curriculum and the major heroes who are talked about, washington, lincoln, grant, jackson, the ones who are on all they'd done nominations of u.s. currency with the exceptions of hamilton and franklin. they have all personally killed indians and engineered policies with ben genocidal to native people so my heroes are not heroes and that is part of the disconnect. so too around language in so many other things. i think a lot of times i do a lot of training for example for k-12 educators because they are on a turnaround plan with "no child left behind" intrinsically graff how do we address this achievement gap and i'll say look, 90% at 100% native kids in
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the school, let's take a walk round the school and amazingly there is an even artwork that testifies to the existence of our race. then you look in the books and what is being taught and is predominantly non-native teachers teaching predominantly about the hero worship of non-native people and it's not the intent to design curriculum you know or teach it to marginalize people but because they feel ill-equipped and they feel they don't understand native people and because they feel it's not okay to ask anything they wanted to know about indians but were afraid to ask, nothing happens. as a result you know, the school in spite of it all is -- and that is a counterexample. one of the shining stars in the native education field and there are some really great shining stars, schools at and then that in the making their ayp "no child left behind" and so so forth so when somebody gets it
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we should pay attention to that but one of them is the ojibwe language immersion school which is based in wisconsin on the lakota reservation and in spite of the fact that the national average has been about 50% failure rate in state-mandated tests in english and in math across much of indian country, in spite of that over there they started the ojibwe immersion school and then curriculum guidelines in the ojibwe and amazingly for 13 years in a row they have had a 100% pass rate of the state-mandated tests in english administered in english even though their teachers teach them exclusively in ojibwe. isn't that amazing? it just goes to show that learning something like a tribal language is not just about another pretty birds singing in the forest. it's not just about appeasing the small sliver of traditional minded native people.
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it's about what might be her most effective tool to generate academic achievement and the reasons are simple. with any kid to look for the one thing that will keep them interested and involved in everything when it comes to education for some it might be sports. it might be music whatever but for native people access to language and culture does that. it also shows that going to school and learning all about the great euros of the world, not yours, all the great civilizations of the world, not yours, all about these important things none of which are yours, consistently and juniors a powerful blow to self-esteem but learning about yourself as well as the rest of the world totally changes things. all of a sudden the parents have had a pretty negative experience with education and the look of the residential boarding schools and i think most people have at least vaguely heard about education for assimilation,
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educators speaking the only languages they knew, schools that kept cemeteries for the kids like haskell and carlisle that and they hear about that but don't really realize. a lot of native people don't really feel comfortable in a parent-teacher conversation in a conference. some people have had a negative experience with death don't feel comfortable in in the hospital and it's like that. those ojibwe immersion schools or otherwise, all of a sudden it turns that on its head. and involves native people and involves parents and it changes the education paradigm. they are still getting everything everyone else is but they also get a second language and that builds trust and rapport and academic success. so to me language is not just about the language and it's not just about the pretty bird. it's about identity and it's about educational accomplishment and success and another piece of
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this too is native people get to change over time. you don't just have to be frozen in time. one time and with a friend to see dancing with wolves when it came out you know and the response was your people have a beautiful culture you know and i didn't know what to say. i was thinking at first well, you know -- >> host: yes we do. >> guest: we do yes but we are from the modern age, not from the 1800's. we are from the lakes and woods, not from the plains and there are so many pieces to that. i think a lot of people just don't understand and don't know where the entry points are. i think all of this fits together, the language stuff, the culture stuff in its toolbox and it's critical for us just with education but with health. the indigenous population of new zealand pioneered revitalization of actually things like --
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mixing things i'd precipitate decline in gangs and gang related violence into me that is just really exciting. everyone is scratching their heads on education. >> host: when you look at indian country in particular and the impact on education, you talked a little bit about ordering schools and i would say that probably was one of the most single -- the policies that happened to the american indian that affected our academic achievement on so many levels and our social communities. take one moment to just explain what our boarding schools and what happens? >> guest: yeah, it's really a critically important piece to understanding how we got where we are at. there is a tendency you know in america for people to say hey this all happened in the past. can't we just forget about it and move on? for most americans their
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experience with immigrants has been one of disconnecting with motherland, mother tongue, mother historical experience so it's hard to understand how historical trauma works but as an analogy is really simple. if someone is pounding you in the head with a hammer and sets the hammer down and says hey that'll happen in the past, just forget about it there is still this horrible wound and it hurts and it affects every facet of life. the boarding school is one of those pieces of the historical trauma puzzles and the schools themselves were -- the politics started in the late 1800's and captain richard henry pratt who was the superintendent of the first indian boarding school at carlisle said art old is to kill the indians in order to save the man. what he meant by that was this will be education for assimilation and the before and
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after pictures over just the physical makeover for the students are astounding. one of the elders back home says your hair is like your spiritual power. it's like your medicine. if someone had reg chopped off when they were young we would take a hot rock and cauterize the wound so your medicine wouldn't leak outs or you can imagine these kids coming to school and the first thing is a haircut. a uniform and your medicine ripped away and burned must have been pretty traumatic. education was compulsory and when they went there, sometimes kids who go to school not just for a year or two. they were residential schools send away from home and they would sometimes spend 12 years there've been fostered in the summer months. the idea was to generate jobs for native people and have them integrate and assimilate into mainstream society that nobody thought about the basic things like this is america in the late
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1800's in the first half of the 1900's and there was a racial barrier to gainful employment for people of color, so the economic opportunity never materialized. people drifted home. how do you learn how to parent? how is -- by how you are parent or. sometimes you get two or three generations of the family that are parented with lots of harsh physical discipline and that puts a tear in the social fabric. we are still plagued by it. >> host: i agree in the other for people to realize is this is a policy. my mother went to boarding school in my husbands mother went to boarding school. we are not just talking about the 1800's. we are talking about a current population. >> guest: right and almost all of the grandparent generation has been through this experience and in canada most of the generation has been through this experience. they started later in and did more recently so it's a big deal
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and you know that so many different types of damage. i think the only way to really heal that, and so many of the other things that we deal with in indian country. there have been lots of ugly chapters we have to deal with in terms of reconciliation in setting the record straight and providing opportunity for people to understand what happened and then you know we can move on from there. south africa's done a lot of good work on reconciliation and canada is starting. here in the u.s. we still have got some work to do and i'm hoping that you know we can create some really good bridge building that will enable just that sort of work to have been. >> host: one of the things that was recognized about the healing of indian country and something we actually get recognized for him or the public is native american spirituality. people identified our spirituality and i'd love how you put it in the book. it made it seem so simple. i was raised by my elders and
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the first thing that they teach is to respect all things. respect everything in front of our face and in the book you talk about how we have a connection to our creator. in my language, depending on the formal term on the word, but our connection is with that and less of a dependence the dependence upon this religious structure, the pope, the pastor and so we disassociate from that religious cavity or that church but the religious experience does not and. we are able to feel connected and are recognized as a religious person so religion is very much a part of our everyday lives and our communities and who we are as people but we still have the persecution for
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our religious practices and he mentioned that in the book are going fact one of the phonecalls we get again is those people who are incarcerated in prison or military who are limited in their ability to practice their religion. how common is that and what are those challenges? >> guest: i think it's a real issue. the first disclaimer to put out there for a lot of people is there is so much diversity in indian country and diversity of faith traditions. for example the red lake reservation in northwestern minnesota, one of villages there, tama, has actually never had a church, never had a mission, has one represent traditional religious belief. they bury their dead in the front yard with all these houses and everyone's yard and it changes the rings. so you step out the door there is mom, dad, and grandpa going back generations and it aches at heart to sell the family farm and moved to california so to speak so that connection to
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place is really key. is like that for a lot of native people. the same reservation across the village in red lake there is a catholic mission, a church. the population is predominantly catholic. they have had nuns there for 90 years and those are two villages on the same reservation so you can have a real diversity of faith traditions and experience. at the same time i think regardless of religious choice, native people do have access to and are able to participate in different customs, beliefs and practices and to me some of the most beautiful and empowering parts of what it means to be native. for those who are incarcerated, those who are for whatever reason having trouble accessing their home community spiritual leaders and things like that, it's a real challenge and an issue and i think that there needs to be recognition for our beliefs, customs and practices
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and equal access to them. some people are working really hard especially for the prison population to present opportunities. sometimes it's hard to find practitioners who are able and willing to go to those places. somebody might be incarcerated hundreds of miles from their home community or something and so there are profound challenges there but i think it's important work. and it raises fundamental issues even about the prison system in general. if you really want that to be about rehabilitation and providing that access it's really critical and native people, sometimes it's a struggle in the country just knowing who you are and finding your way and creating a sub access to those things that are really important. that is one of the things we do and a lot of the ceremonies that i helped out at and try to make a point to even be things like translate because the ceremonies are run exclusively in the tribal language but a lot of people are not speak or so these
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want to make sure they can understand and absorb the content in the meaning of what is happening there. i've got to say working around those things is some of the most fulfilling and exciting work that we do. young hunters and coming-of-age ceremonies and all of that can provide that sense of self and knowledge of direction, fasting and all of those are really important customs for my family and of course there are different specific ceremonies for each tribe that there tends to be an openness to somebody goes fasting and it's a song or medicine and no one has really challenged that. they would be empowered to read the by -- so i really appreciate the way that anyone can be someone. >> host: for me it's really important even though i don't live at home and i'm in
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washington d.c., to be able to go home enough to keep that connectedness but to always keep those practices with you and i think that makes us who we are. another part of identity is something that we have to live with which is called tribal enrollment, tribal membership and, but it is one of the questions that commonly comes up because people are always calling and asking, i think i have native ancestors. how do i find out what tribe i'm from and then of course other people say well i want to find out how i can collect my check or get my free education thinking that those are really what they get. but seriously what kind of guidance to give folks that actually are ones to know to seek their native ancestry? >> guest: is a great question and one that very commonly comes up. eyes a couple of things. first of all a lot of people do have native ancestry and have been completely disconnected. for a long time a third of the native population was being fostered and adopted out.
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they have a right to reconnect that just because somebody doesn't know who they are doesn't mean they should be turned away. so it's important to create opportunities for people to do that. at the same time there are a lot of people and the identity pieces really complicated. if i said you know my great, great grandmother was an english princess, you know, even if she really is just my saying that it means i'm not saying i'm an englishman. i'm just claiming a connection and sometimes that is the issue when somebody says my great, great grandmother was a cherokee princess or something like that. the cherokee kid picked on more than anybody but i guess the issue there is, sometimes you know with that statement or with one like some of my best friends or are indians or whatever, it's using a connection whether it be a friend or an ancient ancestral one is a way to say i am not
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racist. i'm one of you. and so don't use them as a badge to alleviate some sort of guilt and if you have native ancestry, find out about it and embrace it and learn about it and connect. find meaningful connection rather than using it as a badge or a curiosity and get for those who really do want to find out more, it's getting a lot easier. some tribes, i know for example there's a major land settlement issue. they keep some sophisticated genealogical records that are open and a lot of the tribes are working on building that up for themselves and have to keep careful records for enrollment purposes and some places more than others. the other part two all of the ancestry stuff is about tribal enrollment. this is a contested issue in
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indian country and the feelings are very strong on all sides of it. it hinges upon this. you know, citizenship and most nations across the world is determined by being born in that nation, or applying for citizenship through some sort of immigration process and taking a citizenship test or something like that. in indian country eligibility for citizenship is determined by a proven percentage of blood from that tribe in and the problem is sometimes people have relatives, four grandparents from different reservations m.i.t. 100% native but in world as a quarter and in one place if they marry someone from a different tribes and their children aren't eligible for citizenship. some people feel very strongly that should be moved to lineal dissent. some people feel that enrolling anyone who has been in indian if
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we do that you'll have more outsiders not living on the reservation controlling tribal politics so that is where the issue hinges upon. i guess for myself, think we need to loosen up the tribal rolls, move more in the direction of lineal dissent. i think it's fine to require people to have apply in person at the tribal enrollment office rather than by mail just kind of hunting for a perceived in the fed or something like that. sometimes they're talking about things like citizenship. i think it's an interesting times but a critical discussion. >> host: i think the critical discussion with tribal leaders. you also talk about -- we have had a lot of teachable moments. what indian giving is not a community give her title. if you deal with in the book
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osama bin laden and the geronimo thing. and very upset about that and demanding apologize. we tried to use that as a teachable moment with the department of defense but the country is dealing with teachable moments all over the place but the mascot issue and so this question comes up a lot. what would be your message to that policy? >> guest: there is so much to say. first of all the bottom line for me, not all native people feel the same. some people think it's fine to have native mascots but i don't. i think it's time for it to go. i think we are slowly moving in that direction in spite of resistance to it. someday we will look back at native americans as mascots for sports teams the way to the back at segregated water fountains in the south and thing, how could that have ever been tolerated or accepted and i think the trend is moving in that direction. i think that is the direction to move. of course it's highly contested
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and it is not happening uniformly everywhere. there has been more work than at the high school level and collegeville bold and professional sports. to me the issue is really simple. it has to do with respect and the people feel they are honoring others or feel that they are not or feel they don't care that doesn't matter. a lot of native people, not all but a lot of native people don't feel honored. they feel disrespected and even those who are trying to honor the opposing teams will necessarily to file their mascots in the name of team spirit so when there was a recent game this past bring between the fighting sioux and the u.n. the bulldogs it was the opposing men who were chanting and smallpox blankets. nobody was saying that those types of statements are respectful. how would i feel comfortable bringing my children to that
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game cracks so if there are safe alternatives, it's not just political correctness gone awry but there are safe alternatives, lionslions, tigers and bears you know. let's go that route and it won't hurt anybody. it won't dishonor anybody. all of that stuff will go away and we can just focus on this board and we can focus on education at the schools and things that would be much more important. to me it's a no-brainer. of course people are attached to their historical mascots and there has been resistance but i think the trend is to move in that direction, even if you can find an indian who will support your mascot. a lot of people feel it's time to move on. >> host: the other thing i wanted to mention that this book does, sets the groundwork for some of the current issues we are dealing with today political lies and policy. so you have a section in there where you deal with tribes
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having their own police forces, their own courts and our relationship with state governments as far as jurisdiction. why does the fbi come to our reservations to investigate murders persist the state in some communities in this whole issue of jurisdiction and who has jurisdiction. one of the issues, while we are in in the hill today dealing with violence against women and trying to figure out how can tribal governments be able to have the jurisdiction to be able to protect their women and children from perpetrators of wrecks another issue that you deal with is the foundation a foundational piece in your book is you talk about -- a little bit about the adoption of high number of children in foster care and you know we are waiting for that decision coming out in south carolina about indian child welfare and i think people who are policy decision make or should read this book because it has those grounding principles and the origins of the issues we are we are dealing
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with now. so as you are dealing with you now, the few minutes we have left i want to be able to -- what are those policies and what were you thinking when you included those that you included in the book and what were your hopes? >> guest: a lot of people want a little indian study 101, you know. how does sovereignty were? what is indian child welfare? there is so much that people don't understand. the laws complicated. indians are complicated and indian law is really complicated so most lawyers don't get it and finding a way to kind of understand not just why we have casinos or something like that but with the real nature of the legal framework in indian country is and how that affects daily life is really important. even in a place like minnesota where native people are 1.5% of the state's population, we are
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20% of the states homeless population and 17% of the state's prison population and anybody who cares about basic human issues has got to be aware that native people need addressed in our shoes need to be addressed to combat those things. half of native kids are in poverty, so there are some major things that people need to understand. understanding the legal and political frameworks are critical pieces to that and the child welfare pieces also really huge. there is a recent piece on "national public radio" in south dakota, indian child welfare and it was pretty horrifying. some states have done a little better job than others about acknowledging the indian child welfare act and some of the tribes have pretty sophisticated compacts with state governments that affect county social service programs and practices
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but that is a critical area. >> host: one thing i think about the book and your work is to have been part of the shared vision program which really shows that you just want to educate americans and the public so they understand better. i know that is really an important piece that we have more advocates that are outside of our own communities. one final question, will there be another book? >> guest: there is always something cooking. there always is. >> host: thank you. >> guest: thanks so much. >> that. >> after words booktv signature program in which authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policymakers, legislators and others familiar with their material. after words airs every weekend
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on booktv at 10:00 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9:00 p.m. on sunday and 12:00 a.m. on monday. you can also watch after words on line. go to booktv.org and click on after words in the booktv series and the topics list on the upper right side of the page. >> booktv on c-span2 and next weekend out here on the national mall the national book festival will be taking place december 22 and 23rd. booktv will be life both days for the 12th annual national book festival. david merritt is, daniel gergen, sally bedell smith, david and julie nixon eisenhower, tom friedman. those will be some of the guests featured at the national book festival this year. china join us on booktv on c-span2. >> up next shirley sherrod former usda georgia t